A post on Facebook led to a link to an article with 49 phrases to use to calm an anxious child. I am going to explain how these can be used to calm an anxious adult, especially yourself: (My inner child needed lots of calming, especially when I was in counseling and remembering my past.) I am using the phrases suggested by the article and how I might apply it to myself. You might find other ways to use these phrases. (All of them all at once is too big a post so I am splitting it over several days.)
41. “We’ll get through this together.” Accepting help….wow…hardest thing for me to do. I kept looking for an ulterior motive. My counselor kept telling me this and I kept expecting him to bail. He finally did move, 7 years later, but he got me through the tough parts and taught me how to continue the journey. The words are amazing coming from someone that means it. However, a nightmare if someone says it not meaning it. Froglogic talks about building a team….a team will make it together. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rPdft4z23w
42. “What else do you know about (scary thing)?” Knowledge is power. When I found out I had cancer, I learned more about it. When I found out I had PTSD, I learned more about it. I started this blog because it was difficult to find information not related to the military. I respect the military but I felt like an outsider. I wanted a place where I could say, “I’ll share with you what I have learned about PTSD. It is not easy but thriving is possible.” Any scary situation learn more about it. Find out what options you have. Get a second opinion. Increase your knowledge; increase your power.
43. “Let’s go to your happy place.” This works. There are entire web pages and communities devoted to learning how to visualize. Visualization is used in business, art, and healing. Leashing the power of the mind to heal the mind is an amazing experience. Interesting thing about visualizing your happy place, each person’s vision is different. Find a place to sit quietly relaxed. Close your eyes if you can. (Some people cannot shut their eyes, that’s ok. Staring at a blank wall works too.) Music if you like it….then in your mind go to the most beautiful and safest place you can go. At first I couldn’t do this. I needed a guided experience. Fortunately my counselor was trained in helping with this type of experience.
44. “What do you need from me?” Like number 32 this is not always a successful question. Many times I don’t know what I need. Asking me I feel more frustrated. As I mentioned before, use simple yes or no questions to pin down a possibility. https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2016/08/01/calming-yourself-part-4/ Asking myself this question can frustrate me. This is when I liked talking to my counselor when I would pour out all my worries and he would pluck out the clues to help me figure out what I needed at that moment. He encouraged me to write, journal, talk to safe others, whatever method I needed to use to draw out what I needed to feel safe and calm. Sometimes it takes me days of pondering over a situation for me to understand what I need. Sometimes a suggestion of what another person can do for me can narrow down what is needed at the time.
45. “If you gave your feeling a color, what would it be?” This works. When I first started counseling, I had very little access to my emotions. I didn’t know how I felt about anything. I would feel whatever someone else wanted me to feel. My counselor gave me a children’s coloring book about emotions. (I wasn’t able to find the one he used with me online.) Each page allowed me to choose the color of the emotion. Then it explored if something bad happened and draw what I thought would happen if I told. Hooboy…..melt down city. But I did learn how to describe my feelings. Art is a powerful way to describe feelings without words. Art therapy and adult coloring books are gaining popularity for a reason, a need to tap into emotional world without the need of words. Break out the crayons or colored pencils, grab a blank of piece of paper, what color would your feeling be?
46. “Let me hold you.” I suggest making this a question, “May I hold you?” Yes, ask, always. Sometime I can barely tolerate people touching me. Holding is terrifying or frightening for some people, some of the time. Asking allows the person in crisis to have a choice. However, self soothing can be amazing. Hugging yourself. Rocking. These can work. Don’t underestimate the ability to comfort yourself.
47. “Remember when you made it through XYZ?” This one was used a little differently for me. I love the quote, “I have made it through 100% of my bad days.” My counselor also reminded me if I lived through some horror, I could survive remembering those events. Journaling successes reminds me what I have done well. I keep my bachelors degree on my dresser to remind me I can accomplish hard things. This isn’t vanity. It is away to remind myself I can be successful.
48. “Help me move this wall.” Redirecting your attention to a different difficult task. Pushing against a wall works. Turning my attention to a different difficult task also helps to relieve my emotional stress. Gardening, housework, and other pursuits can also bring relief from anxiety.
49. “Let’s write a new story.” A new story…the first time my counselor suggested this I questioned his reasoning. Took many sessions to convince me that I can write a new ending to my story. Now, I believe him. This is my life. I can not control the past, I haven’t a clue what will happen in the future, but right now, today, I decide what I do and which emotions I allow to influence my decisions. Learning to thrive is a new ending to my story.
This concludes the 49 suggestions from the article. I recommend reading it and see the author’s perspective. Learning to self care, self comfort, and build a team is an interesting combination of survival techniques. I do better and better every day.